This is the first comprehensive review of the circular economy in Italy. It broadens the scope of investigation to new sectors, such as the water system and maintenance. The results are surprising and contradict various commonly held assumptions. In fact, the circular economy in Italy has a turnover of 88 billion euros and employs 575,000 people. This adds up to around 1.5% of national added value: almost contributing as much as the energy sector or textile industry. The recycling of secondary materials in the Italian economy engenders potential savings of up to 21 million tonnes of oil equivalent and 58 million tonnes of CO2. This amounts to 12.5% of demand for internal energy and 14.6% of emissions respectively.These are all numbers that highlight how Italy has become a Circular Economy pioneer. They show how Italy is the most highly performing economy in Europe in terms of productivity of materials used and in the use of recycled materials, not least of which thanks to their exceptional propensity for industrial recycling.